Sermon #69 Mark Sermons
Title: PETER’S FALL AND RESTORATION
Text: Mark 14:66-72
Subject: Peter’s Fall And Restoration
Date: Sunday Morning - December 27, 1998
Tape # V-1a
Reading: Luke 22-31-62
The title of my message today is PETER’S FALL AND RESTORATION. The verses before us record the painful, but very instructive, story of Peter’s terrible denial of the Lord Jesus.
This sad story is recorded in detail in all four gospel narratives. Yet, neither Matthew, Mark, Luke, nor John make any excuse for or defense of their friend Peter. They all wrote their histories, not as mere men writing about men, but as instruments of divine inspiration. This story of Peter’s fall was written by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit for our learning and admonition. May the Spirit of God who gave us this story four times now inscribe its lessons upon our hearts by his almighty grace, for Christ’s sake.
1. Try to picture the scene and the events which transpired on that cold, bitter night, if you can. It was a solemn, solemn night. Our Lord Jesus himself called it “the judgment (crisis) of this world.”
· The disciples had just observed the last passover meal of the legal dispensation and the first communion service of the gospel age.
· The Lord Jesus told them plainly of his certain, imminent betrayal and death.
· Peter, James and John had spent the night with the Son of God in Gethsemane.
· On that sacred evening, our Savior preached that marvelous sermon which is recorded in John 14, 15 and 16.
· It was on this night, earlier in the evening, that our Master, our great High Priest, offered that great prayer for us which is recorded in John 17.
· The soldiers came, like a mob of lynchmen, into the garden to arrest the Lord of glory, led by his own familiar friend, Judas Iscariot.
· Judas betrayed him with a kiss.
· And Peter denied the Lord Jesus, denied him again, and denied him a third time, cussing like a sailor.
2. Why do you suppose this record is given four times in the New Testament?
Surely the Holy Spirit means for us to give it special attention. I do not pretend to know the full answer to that question; but I can think of at least four reasons why this sad tale is told in such detail by all four gospel writers.
a. Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus must have greatly increased the pain and suffering of our tender-hearted Savior.
b. The Holy Spirit would set before us, in a most emphatic way, the greatness of our Savior’s saving power, the majesty of his unconditional grace, and the immutability his faithfulness.
c. The divine Comforter knew that we would all be subject to these same temptations.
d. This fourfold record of Peter’s fall is intended to be a startling, instructive lesson for us concerning the frailty of the best of men.
The Word of God does not tell us very much even about the very best of men who lived in Bible times. The histories of God’s saints in Scripture are very scanty. Yet, the Word of God very particularly records the faults and falls of the most eminent saints. It seems that the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to remind us incessantly that “all flesh is grass!” The best of men are only men at best. And he incessantly reminds us that “Salvation is of the Lord!” Peter was not the infallible bishop of Rome, as the papists pretend. He was just a frail, fallible, fickle, sinful man. The only thing the pope has in common with Peter is his denial of Christ.
Peter’s fall seems to say to every one of us - You, too, are weak. You, too, will fall, if left to yourself. Do not ever trust yourself. Trust Christ entirely. Lean on him incessantly. Do not rely upon your great experiences or the imaginary strength and firmness of your faith. Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. Christ alone can hold you up. Christ alone can keep you.”
Proposition: My friends, we must ever watch and pray! We must each diligently watch over our own souls and prayerfully seek the Lord’s preserving grace, if we would live for the honor of his name.
I want to live for the honor of Christ. I want to honor and magnify him in my living as well as in my preaching. I know that you who love him want the same thing. My heart shudders, my soul trembles at the thought of bringing reproach upon the name of him who loved me and gave himself for me. Yet, I know this - Unless Christ himself preserves me from the evil that is in me and preserves you from the evil that is in you, we will, most certainly, profane his name.
1. The Circumstances of Peter’s Fall
2. The Means of Peter’s Recovery
3. The Signs of Peter’s Restoration
4. The Lessons for Us Today
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF PETER’S FALL
How did such a great man come to commit such a grievous evil? Our text is not talking about a lost man, but a saint, a child of God, redeemed by blood, justified in Christ, saved by grace, and sanctified by the Spirit. Peter was in the tenor of his life a faithful giant among faithful giants. Few before him and few after him could stand shoulder to shoulder with him. He was a man strong in faith, firm in conviction, bold in preaching and unrelenting in his zeal for Christ.
This man was eminent even among the apostles, a leader among leaders, an example among examples. But this man, great as he was, was just a man. Like you and me, he was a man whose heart, by nature, was full of sin, whose flesh was weak.
On that dark, dark night in the High Priest’s palace, this man’s evil heart broke out in a horrible display of ungodliness, in an act as evil and vile as any in human history. The godly apostle Peter blasphemously denied the Son of God with foul oaths!
How can we account for this thing? As we look at the circumstances of Peter’s fall, I remind you, there were no extenuating circumstances to excuse or even mitigate his guilt. Indeed, everything recorded in the inspired gospel records aggravates his offense.
A. Peter’s fall was very strange because he was one of the Lord Jesus’ most highly favored and most highly honored disciples.
The Lord had done so much for Peter!
1. He was one of the very first to whom the Son of God made himself known while he was in the world, one of the first to be saved by the power of his word John 1:40-42).
2. Peter was in the inner circle of the Master’s most intimate friends.
3. Peter seems to have been the chief spokesman for the early church.
NOTE: The greater our privileges and the higher our honors, the greater our responsibilities are and the more horrible our offenses.
B. Peter’s Fall is especially sad because he was plainly and faithfully warned of his great danger (Luke 22:31-34).
Our Lord Jesus told Peter in the plainest language possible exactly what was going to happen to him. He even gave him the details. Peter was told of the danger to which he was about to be exposed.
1. Satan desired to have him.
2. His faith would be fiercely attacked.
3. He must watch and pray, that he enter not into temptation.
But Peter walked headlong into danger. He rejected the light God had given him. He ignored the revelation of God’s Word!
C. Peter’s guilt is aggravated by the fact that it came so soon after he had confidently declared his loyalty to Christ (Matt. 26:31-35; Luke 22:33).
Just a few hours after this proud, confident boast of his love for Christ, Peter cussed and denied him three times. How fickle we are!
D. Peter’s fall did not come at once, but by degrees.
1. He followed the Lord afar off.
2. He sat in the seat of scorners. - He sought the comfort and warmth their fire provided.
3. He denied the Lord Jesus by degrees.
a. At first, he pretended not to understand the maiden’s words.
b. Then, he denied that he knew the man (Compare Matt. 16:18 and John 6:69).
c. At last, he took the profane language of base, ungodly men to prove that he was no follower of the holy Lamb of God.
NOTE: It takes very little to make a great saint fall into great sin, if God leaves him to himself. Peter’s trial was nothing but the word of a weak young woman, who said, “Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.”
NOTE: There are many, many ways by which men and women deny the Lord Jesus Christ; but usually the falls of God’s saints are not sudden. Normally, great falls are preceded by much smaller inconsistencies.
E. Here is another very great aggravation of Peter’s sin - All this was done very close to the place where his Lord and Master was at that time suffering for him, bearing his reproach!
The Lord Jesus Christ was standing right in front of Peter, hearing every word!
F. What was the reason for Peter’s fall?
How can we account for all of this? How did this man, so great, so unique in so many ways come to commit such an horrible offense?
1. Peter was far too proud of himself, far too confident of his own strength.
2. He was overcome by the fear of man, in this case, by the fear of a woman who had no obvious power against him.
3. He neglected watchfulness over his own heart and soul (Pro. 4:23).
4. I suspect that, like mother Eve, Peter had begun to doubt the Savior’s word.
II. THE MEANS OF PETER’S RECOVERY
Peter fell; but he didn’t perish. His faith weakened; but it did not die. He sinned; but he was not cast off or forsaken. He denied the Lord; but the Lord did not deny him. Peter belonged to Christ; and Christ can never lose one of his own. The good Shepherd can never lose one of his sheep. Peter fell; but Christ graciously raised him up.
The righteous fall seven times a day; but the Lord raises them up (Pro. 24:16). How did the Lord Jesus restore his fallen servant? I see four things the Lord used to restore his fallen child.
A. A Work Of Providence - “The cock crew!”
God has many ways of reaching a man’s conscience. He can make asses speak as easily as prophets and roosters to crow on cue.
B. A Work Of Grace - “The Lord turned and looked on Peter” (Luke 22:61).
What a look that must have been! The Lord turned to Peter. Peter did not turn to the Lord. He looked upon Peter, not in anger and disgust, but in mercy, love and grace! That look was a look of tenderness, compassion and faithfulness. With that look the Lord spoke silently, but effectually, to the heart of his fallen son. He seems to have said…
· “ I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”
· “Ye have not chosen me; but I have chosen you.”
· “I gave unto you eternal life; and you shall never perish.”
· “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
· “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.”
· “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee.”
· “In me thy righteousness found.”
· “I am thy strength.”
· “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
· “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
· “Return unto me, return unto me; and I will pardon.”
C. A Work Of The Word - “Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him” (v. 72).
The Word of God graciously and effectually brought Peter to repentance.
D. A Work Of Our Advocate - “I have prayed for thee” (Luke 22:32).
As a great High Priest and Intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for Peter’s preservation in faith and restoration by grace, even before he fell! That same great High Priest is our Advocate on high. He intercedes for us now, and has interceded for us from eternity (1 John 2:1-2).
These thoughts thrill my heart and flood my soul with joy! The Lord Jesus Christ is full of tenderness and mercy. His faithfulness is great. And his compassions never fail. He who is our God and Savior is a faithful, unfailingly faithful God and Savior!
If you are a believer, if truly you trust Christ alone as your Lord and Savior, nothing shall ever separate you from him, not even your sins (Rom. 4:8). Nothing can separate us from…
· His Love.
· His Favor.
· His Mercy.
· Hi Care.
· His Saving Power.
· His Omnipotent Hand Of Grace!
III. THE SIGNS OF PETER’S RESTORATION
The Lord’s works for and upon Peter were effectual. They accomplished their intended design. And Peter was graciously restored by the very Savior he so vehemently denied.
A. Peter’s trial and fall were not accidents.
Satan ran God’s child through his rough sifter; but he lost nothing in the process but chaff. Peter came out of this thing a much better man than he was before (Acts 2 and 4). Even this tragic affair was under the control of God’s sovereign providence and according to his purpose of grace.
The devil is God’s devil. That fiend of hell is the unwilling, unwitting vassal of the Almighty (Isa. 14:12-27). The dragon of hell is as much included in all things working together for good to God’s elect as the angels of light (Rom. 8:28).
B. Peter went out of the place (Luke 22:62).
Once fire was restored in his soul, he no longer needed the warmth of that fire which the Lord’s enemies had kindled. He immediately forsook those who had turned his heart from his Lord.
C. Peter wept bitterly (v. 72; Luke 22:62).
Convulsive weeping overcame him He could not stand himself. His very heart was crushed within him. Oh, blessed is that man whose heart is broken before God. Christ Jesus heals the broken-hearted! “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise!” Do you know anything about repentance?
IV. THE LESSONS FOR US TODAY
What are we to learn from this tragic event in Peter’s life? How can we benefit from it? What lessons are taught by this man’s fall and restoration?
A. Let us learn something about ourselves.
1. We must never be presumptuous about ourselves.
We are all very much like Peter in his weakness. We are all fickle, sinful wretches by nature. There is no evil in this world of which we are not capable (1 Cor. 10:12; 4:7).
2. We ought never be severe with our erring brethren.
B. Let us learn something about God’s grace and his salvation.
1. It is unconditional.
2. It is in Christ.
3. It is free.
4. It is indestructible!
What blessed security our souls have in Christ! Nothing an ever severe us from our Savior! “Once in Christ, in Christ forever!”
C. Let us learn something about the faithfulness of our great God and Savior.
“He will never, never leave us,
Nor will let us quite leave Him.”
“He abideth faithful!” “Faithful is he that calleth you!” “Great is thy faithfulness!”
Children of God, my brothers and sisters in Christ, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”
1. Trust Christ alone.
2. Live around the cross.
3. Cling to Christ always.
4. As often as you fall, return to Christ.
· He will receive you.
· He will forgive you.
· He will be gracious to you.
· He will forget the wrong you have done!
Illustration: Big Jake